After nearly two years of violent battles between the Iraqi army and Kurdish fighters led by Mustafa Barzani, the two sides agreed to sign the February 10, 1964 agreement, the most prominent of which was the establishment of self-rule for the Kurds and the preservation of their national rights.

The fighting erupted after a major military campaign launched by former President Abdul Karim Qassem in 1961 against Barzani's sites to impede his plans to establish self-rule in northern Iraq, but the campaign was stopped after his ouster and the arrival of President Abdul Salam Aref to power in 1963.

Al-Bhutani believed that the 1964 agreement did not meet all the Kurds' demands (Al-Jazeera)

Chronic conflict

The Kurdish issue began to become clear after the annexation of the Kurdistan region to Iraq at the end of 1925, as the successive Iraqi governments were not aware of the specificity of Kurdish nationalism, according to the head of the Kurdish Academy in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Dr. Abdul Fattah Al-Boutani.

Al-Bhutani points out - in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net - that those governments did not implement the conditions for annexing the region to Iraq, which included modest national rights for the Kurds.

That is why the intransigence - as Al-Bhutani adds - in not implementing the demands of the Kurdish national movement in Iraq led to the outbreak of a number of uprisings and armed movements, and the longest of these armed movements was the September uprising in 1961.

On the 59th anniversary of the September Revolution, led by Mullah Mustafa Barzani, we salute all the revolutionaries for freedom and equality everywhere.

- JUDGE Zebari ⚖ ⚖….

🆎dulrahman (@aszebari) September 11, 2020

Al-Bhutani explains that the regional states that include parts of Kurdistan, such as Turkey, Iran and Iraq, agreed to suppress the Kurdish movement at the time, and in June 1963 they launched the "Tigris" operation. These countries came together to develop a plan that would almost eliminate the Kurdish revolution, had it not been for the intervention. The Soviet Union and the United Nations.

In his turn, Professor of International Relations, Dr. Muhammad Ihsan, says that the Kurdish movement in Iraq has passed through several stages, since the beginning of the establishment of the Iraqi state, and adds that Abdul Karim Qasim's coup and toppling the monarchy in 1958 gave a qualitative shift for Kurdish national thought and the Kurdish liberation movement in Iraq.

Ihsan attributes this to the fact that Article 3 of the Iraqi constitution at the time stated for the first time that the Iraqi people consisted of two main nationalities, the Kurds and the Arabs, and this was the latest qualitative leap in the Kurdish struggle in Iraq, because in Syria they were without identity, and in Turkey they were called mountain Turks In Iran, they fused within the Persian culture.

Ihsan notes that the armed conflict continued during the rule of Qasim, but after the Ba'athists came to power, a kind of temporary understanding occurred between them and the Kurdistan Democratic Party in 1964.

Chalabi believes that Abd al-Salam Aref wanted to implement the principle of "divide and rule" within the Kurdish movement (Al-Jazeera)

A temporary truce

After Abd al-Salam Aref’s coup against the Ba’athists on November 18, 1963, the new regime realized that it was not possible to eliminate the Kurdish rebellion with the military option, and for this the government was forced to open the door to negotiations in 1963, according to Al-Bhutani.

The Kurdish academic adds that these negotiations succeeded and a cease-fire was signed on February 10, 1964, and the Kurds obtained under this armistice some national rights that included 8 points.

Al-Bhutani points out that these rights did not meet all the demands of the Kurdish people, and led to the split of the Kurdistan Democratic Party into two wings, the political office wing and one led by Mustafa Barzani.

Kurdish political writer Rebwar Ali Chalabi believes that the February agreement between Abd al-Salam Aref and the Kurdish movement was not aimed at granting the Kurds autonomy. Rather, Aref wanted to implement the principle of "divide and rule" within the Kurdish movement.

Chalabi adds - to Al-Jazeera Net - that the Kurdish split occurred due to the lack of the collective mentality of party management, and the dominant clan tendency at the time.

It is noteworthy that the Shah of Iran, Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, wanted to play the Kurds as a political card to solve Tehran's border and economic problems with Iraq, and he achieved his goal in 1975, leaving the Kurdish movement alone, all of which is evidence that the Kurdish leaders at the time were not up to the required level for that fateful issue.

For his part, Al-Bhutani clarifies that the political wing of the Kurds objected to the non-inclusion of the term autonomy in the February agreement, and for this they accused Mustafa Barzani of conceding too much to Arif's government, and indeed after long meetings and shuttle visits between Baghdad and Hajj Omran this agreement was not implemented, and the final result was an appeal. The fighting, April 2, 1965.


After years of conflict, Baghdad and Kurdistan reached a new agreement on March 11, 1970. Dr. Ihsan compares the two agreements by noting that the terms of the 1964 agreement were general, including a general amnesty and restoration of administrations, compensation, and others. As for the March 1970 agreement, he discussed the ruling. More clearly, and it included a full ministry, but they handed over the reins of the region to the Kurdish Baathists, and not to the Kurdish opposition parties, and this caused problems that were exacerbated by external interventions to destabilize Iraq.

Ihsan points out that the 1970 agreement was better, as the regions of Iraqi Kurdistan stabilized until 1975, but regional and international interventions, miscalculation and lack of pure intention on the part of the Iraqi government at the time complicated matters.

He believes that resolving the Kurdish question is the key to stability for Iraq and the region. If the 1970 agreement was fully implemented, it would not have been the 1975 Algiers Accord, nor the war with Iran (1980-1988), nor the invasion of Kuwait (1990-1991), nor the siege, invasion and destruction of Iraq today.